Before and After: Bold Built-Ins Transform a Living Room for £400

published Oct 3, 2020
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Before: living room with peeling plaster and dingy colors

The best, most creative projects can sometimes come from being quoted way too much for a project. That’s when intrepid DIYers roll up their sleeves and get to work in doing the project themselves for less—with impressive results.

Camellia Odojukan (@mrsodojukan) is proof. When her family moved into their Victorian home in England, the whole house needed updates. One space that they put off redoing was the living room, which was filled with dark colors and dated finishes. Camellia wanted it to be more modern—and have more practical storage, which the house was short on—but she didn’t want to spend a ton on redos. For the task of new built-in cabinets in the living room she was quoted £1000—motivation to figure out how to do it on her own on the cheap.

“After getting quotes for the work to be done, and realizing it was something we wouldn’t be able to afford soon, I decided to take on the project myself as I knew I could do it with patience,” Camellia says.

After repairs were made, Camellia started with a clean slate: fresh white walls and… not much else. So she drafted up her dream built-ins: “I drew the design, so I had all the measurements. And calculated what wood I would need and all the cuts,” Camellia says. Her budget was just £400 for the project—less than half what she was quoted.

She built the boxes for the base cabinets first, then moved to open shelving above. “The hardest part had to be the cupboards because I wanted it all to look as seamless as possible,” she says.

The end product: a fireplace wall with built-ins that make space for displaying art and books on the open shelves, and hold even more essentials in the cabinets beneath. There’s a perfectly sized spot for the TV, too. Camellia even made holes for all the wires to make sure that they had a space to hide.

Camellia made a bold choice in painting the built-ins, the fireplace, and the walls a matching deep teal. “I’m really happy I decided to paint everything the same color,” Camellia says. Although the size of the room didn’t actually change, with the addition of storage and a seamless paint job, Camellia says it actually looks way more spacious.

“I love how different the room feels when you walk into it. It’s so warm and inviting. It’s definitely my favorite room in the house so far,” Camellia says.

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